H.E. Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President
23 September 2008
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GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Philippines, said the developing world was at a “tipping point” and her country had felt the pain of high food, fuel and rice prices. Her people had pursued the universal dream of a better life, for themselves and their children. Indeed, the Philippines was proving the value of a new paradigm for self-reliance through the use of a targeted strategy with precise prescriptions for easing price challenges, focusing on food self-sufficiency and energy independence, and long-term reforms.
Such gains had been hard-earned, made sometimes with painful reforms to reset the economy, she said. It had not been easy, but Filipinos were realistic, and understood that “we cannot do it alone”. The world needed a strong United Nations as never before. Economic uncertainty had moved like a terrible tsunami around the globe, wiping away gains. The light at the end of the tunnel had become an oncoming train, with new shocks to the global financial system. It would take time and perseverance to put the pieces back together.
To address such global challenges, she urged building bridges among allies, to bring rice to where it was needed, and investments to create jobs. It was, therefore, timely that the Secretary-General had organized this year’s agenda around the global economy’s impact on the poor. His Comprehensive Framework for Action sought to achieve food security through the right combination of policies, technologies and investments.
Turning to her country, she said the Philippines had increased and stabilized rice supply, clamped down on price gouging, and invested billions into planting and agricultural modernization. It had increased its energy independence by 17 per cent, and was pursuing a policy of using non-food biofuel sources planted on land unusable for food production.
At the same time, her country had had its share of religious strife and ethnic tension, notably on the island of Mindanao, which had the highest-yielding fields, and the highest incidence of hunger, a sad irony. The prime reason was endless conflict. Progress had been made, until violent elements within the Moro Islamic Liberation Front took the law into their own hands. The country would restart dialogue when the area was secure.
“There is no alternative to peace,” she continued, acknowledging the central role of allies, such as the United Nations, Brunei and Saudi Arabia, among others. Her Government would refocus peace talks from one centred on dialogues with rebels to one with communities. The context of its engagement with all armed groups would subscribe to the United Nations-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.
In closing, she said the Secretary-General’s leadership was more vital than ever. There were hundreds of millions of good people across the globe struggling as never before. “We must hear their cry for help,” she said.